Young children don’t measure your love for them by how much money you put into their college funds, how clean the house is, or even the number of gifts you give them. As Dr. Anthony P. Witham once said, children have their own way of spelling “love”: T-I-M-E. Here are a few pieces of communication advice to make sure you are there for your children.
Take the time—trust me, you have it
Take some time every day and spend it with your kid. If you have more than one kid, make sure they each get some one-on-one time. Block time out in your busy schedule if you have to—just make sure you do it every day. Even if it’s only 15 minutes per day, it can make a huge difference in building good, quality communication habits with your kids and do wonders for your relationship.
Trust me: you can spare 15 minutes. You’re not that busy (even if you feel otherwise).
It’s vital that your attention is focused on your kids while spending time with them. Slow down and be present. That means putting your phone down, shutting your laptop, turning off that show, and devoting your undivided attention. You’ll be surprised how much of an impact it will make.
“When you’re overwhelmed with your responsibilities, it’s easy to toggle into automatic pilot with your kids,” says Dr. Harley A. Rotbart. “But if your mind is elsewhere during the precious moments you’ve worked hard to preserve, you have lost your kids’ childhood just as surely as if you hadn’t spent the time with them at all.”
Don’t just hear them out: listen
Your kids know when you’re really listening and when you’re just giving them the absent-minded nod followed by the “Uh huh, sure, honey,” run-around routine. When you take the time to be with your kids, make sure you’re listening. Open your ear holes and soak it up. It will not only help you build stronger bonds with your kids, but it will also make your children feel valued and loved.
Ask your kids about their feelings on things they care about. And you don’t know what your kids are into, now might be a good time to find out. Have fun with it. Laugh a little. Play and joke a bit.
But remember, you’re listening. This isn’t a time to lecture. This is a time to teach. You don’t have to do much at all besides pay attention and listen. And you don’t have to agree with everything your kids say to be a good listener, either. That’s not what it’s about. It’s about showing them that you love them. Make an effort to open up your ears and shut your mouth.
Do not tell your kids what you think they should feel, and don’t just assume you know what they’re feeling either. Let them express those feelings in their own way and in their own time.
Patience is a key element in showing that you care. And whatever you do, don’t minimize their feelings by saying things like “That’s dumb,” or “You’re silly, you shouldn’t feel like that,” or “Don’t worry. You’ll get it when you’re older.” Their feelings are real and should be considered and respected.
“When kids feel valued, loved, heard, and respected, they develop an identity based on these responses,” says Támara Hill, child/adolescent therapist. “Most children don’t demand much; they simply want to have a place in the world and in the lives of those they love.”
Don’t just be a role model: be a good one
When your children are grown, they’ll put you into one of two categories. Either you’ll fit into the “I want to be just like them,” category, or the “I don’t want to make the same mistakes,” category. These are also known as the “good role model” and “bad role model” categories.
Growing up, my dad’s most famous saying around the house was, “Do what I say, not what I do.” As teens, this was funny, especially when Dad got in trouble with Mom for saying it. When you’re dealing with little kids who can’t always communicate vocally, however, your example is paramount.
Use tones and words you want your children to mimic, because they will. If you’re yelling at your partner in front of your kids, don’t be surprised with the yelling starts between siblings. If you laugh when you say, “Stop, that’s not right,” you’re going to confuse your kids. Be clear and precise. Use words they will understand to describe what you are feeling. Doing that will help your kids to learn to get in touch with their own feelings and express them the same way.
Being a good parent is all about showing your children you love them. This comes with taking the time to be there, knowing how to listen, and being a good role model. If you can master those things, you’ll have a better chance of succeeding as a parent. Don’t miss out on their lives. They don’t stay kids for too long.
MY WIFE WANTS TO OPEN THE RELATIONSHIP. IS OUR MARRIAGE OVER?
Jamie slumps on my therapy couch, his head in his hands. “My wife says her attraction to me has waned. She asked me if we can open our relationship, but that’s not something I want. What do I do?”
As a psychologist and sex therapist, I work in the world of sex and intimacy every day. I consider my job as a psychotherapist, author, and educator especially important because we don’t talk about sex enough–even with our partners.
There is so much mystery and shame around exploring our sexuality. I’ve heard dozens of spouses confide that they don’t feel passion for their mate anymore. They bravely share their fantasies about finding sexual excitement in new ways. So I’m eager to help Jamie understand the challenges of long-term love and explore how he and his partner might move forward.
Even though his wife’s concerns have thrown him into a panic, I reassure him that sexual desire disconnect is a common problem in long-term love. His wife, like many people, longs for the easy excitement and horniness she felt when they were dating.
In the beginning, attraction comes easily. Lust is a biological cocktail of dopamine, oxytocin, hopes, and expectations garnished with a giant splash of novelty. And it’s powerful. When we’re drunk on love the object of our affection grabs us like a rottweiler does a squeaky stuffed toy.
His wife used to daydream about him and feel a delicious sense of thrill. Sexual arousal flushed her body during a business meeting. The passion was visceral, and it felt fantastic.
But after a while novelty wanes, the relationship settles down, and the erotic is replaced by the every day. I call this Marriage Incorporated: two people love each other but their relationship becomes a business instead of a romance. Kids, careers, soccer practice, tax returns, and peeing with the door open. They do everything together but each other.
Sex falls way down the priority list. And when they do make love, it’s pretty boring. The typical sexual encounter in a long-term relationship is less than seven minutes from nudge to snore. Last week, one patient told me when her wife wants sex, she asks, “Is your mouthguard in yet?” So much for romance!
What’s more, the infrequent sex may lead to orgasm but it’s devoid of passion, creativity, and sizzle. There are no surprises in the predictable routine of “nipple, nipple, crotch, goodnight.”
And gee whiz, one day couples realize they’re not attracted to their mate. Marriage Inc. has replaced Passion Inc.
Here’s what Jamie’s wife did right. She started the conversation about attraction, passion, and their sex life. This is the best-case scenario. She didn’t cheat.
Sneaking around for secret sex is a common way that a partner who has lost attraction recreates sexual thrill. Because even though 95% of people in ongoing relationships state they want sexual exclusivity, reported infidelity rates range from 20-50%.
So research on sex, desire, and monogamy challenges us to face the facts. Wanting monogamy is one thing—actually creating sustainable passion is another. It’s more normal than you think someone to fantasize about sex outside their relationship.
But instead of having an affair Jamie’s wife is proposing an open relationship, or consensual non monogamy (CNM). The details are worked out by each couple, but the basic idea is simple: partners openly agree to engage in sexual exploration with other people while staying emotionally exclusive.
While he may be shocked that his wife is floating the idea, approximately 4% of North Americans are in a CNM relationship, and up to a quarter of men and women report being willing to at least consider engaging in this alternate relationship model.
As difficult as it is, together they are starting to face the facts, which is what I hope all couples with sexual desire disconnect will do. His wife longs for more sexual passion but she doesn’t want to leave the marriage. She thinks new experiences will satisfy her. And they might, but only for a while. Novelty, by definition, doesn’t last.
So if we need novelty to “make us” attracted, we have to keep seeking new partners, new thrills, or new taboos. So what can you do about it?
Talking honestly about these big—and very threatening—feelings and ideas is a brave and intimate act. And it can be a pivot point to a far more satisfying relationship. But not an open relationship. Because Jamie wants monogamy. And that’s okay.
As with any sexual behavior, don’t agree to something you don’t want. As a sex therapist I am not opposed to open relationships on a philosophical level, but in real life, this model doesn’t work for most couples. In my clinical experience, even when the terms are negotiated and both partners are on board, jealousy, guilt, and unresolved relationship issues often tear couples apart in an agonizing failed experiment.
But what if he can become the new partner she seeks? Instead of opening their marriage to other people, what if they open their marriage to each other?
If his wife is willing to play ball, I suggested he commit to changing their relationship from the inside out and vow to re-ignite desire, attraction, and sexual thrill with each other. Since almost all of us want monogamy, but passion fades with familiarity, the challenge is to make monogamy hot again.
Five Tips to Make Monogamy Hot Again
Bring Buddha into the bedroom Mindful sex makes the familiar exciting again because attraction is all in your head. When you nibble a delicious chocolate truffle, you enjoy it fully here and now, even though you’ve had hundreds of chocolates before. Why? Because paying attention to this truffle with mindfulness makes the familiar experience fresh, alive, and sensory-each chocolate tastes new and interesting.
You can create erotic novelty the same way by getting your head into bed. Research shows that mindfulness practice increases sexual desire, arousal, and satisfaction.Instead of kissing someone new, kiss your same old partner for the very first time in this moment. When you are mindful of lips, tongue, heat, and breath, excitement can surge, and this kiss feels new and exciting. Experience the thrill you used to feel, one kiss, one breath, at a time. Pleasure is available right now, with the one you are with.
Treat sex like exercise Just do it. Sure, in the lustful dating days spontaneous desire swept you away and you tumbled into bed like a pair of mating otters. But in long-term relationship, it helps to schedule sex. Just like you do with the gym, commit to your sexual workouts, get going even when you don’t feel like it, and afterward you will always be glad you did.
Make a weekly sex date and no matter how tired you are, or how compelling the couch and Netflix seem, honor your commitment to your passionate life. Couples who make love on schedule often discover they start having sex in between sex dates—it’s as though their sexual fitness increases.
Have gourmet sex Complacency and laziness lead to boring sex. Many of us forget the vast possibilities for sensual exploration that two bodies multiplied by five senses offer us. When is the last time you licked the back of your partner’s knees, or blew gently on their neck?
The erotic menu is vast. So stop relying on fast food. Shake up the old routine of “nipple, nipple, crotch, goodnight.” Get creative and curious and vow to surprise each other with a lingering five course sensory feast. Give each other a slow, erotic, sensual massage, or visit a love shop and get some sexy toys to bring the play back into foreplay.
Explore your dark sexual energy When a person seeks an affair or open relationship, they are longing for the excitement of the taboo. And let’s face it—taboo is sexy. We all have what I call “dark sexual energy.” This is the raw, primal aspect of our sexual desire. But often we hide this side of our sexual self from our partner. So, instead of denying this part of your eroticism, take a risk and share it with your mate. Tell them, in explicit detail, one of your secret fantasies.
Now there is a difference between fantasy and reality, so you may not choose to act this scenario out, but it can be highly arousing to expose our deepest sexual desires to our beloved. And explore something new—visit a fetish party together dressed in leather and lace, or have a quickie in the spare bedroom at your boss’s dinner party. Create excitement with sexy scenarios. Kick Marriage Inc. in the butt and re-ignite the fire of lust.
Expand your orgasms with tantric sex The typical climax orgasm lasts for 7 seconds for men and 21 seconds for women. Imagine extending that to minutes, and beyond. If regular orgasm is a firecracker, tantric orgasm is a bonfire. You can learn to play with your sexual arousal by changing how you breathe, connecting more deeply with your partner while you make love, and staying intently conscious at orgasm (instead of swooning into fantasy or zoning out).
Read my book or take a course in tantric sex. With practice, you can experience orgasm all over your body and have multiple waves of pleasure. Put the OM into Oh My.
In today’s fast paced world, stress can easily take a toll on you. Situations like being held up in traffic easily raises stress levels. You cannot always avoid stress but there are simple effective exercises to calm you down and reduce stress in just 2 minutes.
There’s a well-known stress relief technique called box-breathing which is commonly used by Navy seals or people who work at very stressful environments like first responders. This technique has a direct effect on the functioning of the nervous system. It is a powerful yet simple relaxation technique aimed to return breathing to its normal rhythm.
This breathing is also known as resetting your breath. It helps clear your mind, relax your body and improve your focus. Most meditation classes use this technique to help their students re-centre themselves and improve concentration.
Follow the following simple steps to help you relax.
With your eyes shut, breathe in through your nose while slowly counting to four. Feel the air enter your lungs.
Now hold your breath slowly and count to four. Avoid inhaling or exhaling for 4 seconds. (Do not clamp your nose or mouth.)
Exhale slowly for four seconds.
Repeat steps 1 to 3 until you feel calm. Normally 4 minutes would work.
You can practice as many times as you want. Breathing deeply for few minutes can tremendously benefit your body and brain at stressful situations. It causes the vagus nerve which runs from the neck down to the diaphragm to send a message to the brain to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system and shut down the sympathetic nervous system.
Sympathetic Nervous System:
This is the part of the nervous system responsible for rest, peace, relaxation and digestion. When facing any perceived threat, the body will instinctively either run or fight. Also known as the body’s fight or flight response. Box breathing prevents the adrenal dump and the fight or flight response.
In return, the body makes smart choices based on relaxed concentration, a brain wave state, referred to as Alpha.
Alpha waves brought about by deep breathing patterns Creates a positive feedback loop that brings back harmony between the mind and body.
This brain wave state is Also an indication of the eureka moments of compelling new idea. This enables you to create something out of nothing especially when in a challenging situation.
While the box breathing technique helps calm you down, it’s more important to avoid very stressful situations if you can. Too much stress over extended periods of time can create more complicated health issues. In fact most health related complications are due to stress.
Practice good Habits:
Balance your life with exercise and healthy foods and, when caught up in unavoidable stressful traffic, you can play some calming music while you work on the breathing exercise. This will distract you from the surrounding noise and, before you know it, you will be free from all the hustle and bustle. Stay healthy and stress-free.
Losing weight doesn’t
happen overnight, no matter how badly we wish it would. If you keep trying and
failing, here are some reasons why.
It doesn’t matter if
you want to lose weight before a vacation, before your wedding, because you
gained a few pounds over the holidays or if you simply just want to live a
healthier lifestyle, losing weight is a challenge, and it’s one that you really
have to be up for.
Sure, there are
different things out there like diet pills, wraps, and whatever else you might
see on a commercial that promise quick results, but the fact is that losing
weight does not happen overnight.
There is no “magic
pill” that automatically makes you drop down 2 pants sizes, and the reality is
it’s about making healthy decisions and being active. A body in motion stays in
Why you can’t seem to
shed those pounds
If you have been
trying to lose weight, but aren’t seeing any results, here’s some insight into
why. Some of these reasons are probably things you don’t want to hear, but they
are definitely things you need to hear.
#1 You’re not educated
about weight loss. If
you think going to the gym, and doing a light walk on the treadmill for 20
minutes or less, and then going home and eating chips, cookies, and other fatty
foods is going to help you successfully lose weight, you’re very wrong. Just
because you are going to the gym and working out, doesn’t mean you should then
go home and eat every fatty food in sight.
The key to losing
weight is being educated about what food you should be putting into your body,
and also knowing how many calories you should be burning, in order to meet your
desired goal. If you aren’t sure, do some research on the internet, go to the
library and check out some books, or start with a simple plan like making sure
to have more green items on your plate than white.
#2 You’re not
determined. Although you might
think you are motivated and really pumped up to lose weight, you’re probably
not, at least not enough. The only way you will truly ever see results, is when
you actually want something bad enough that you work harder than you’ve ever
If you go to the gym
2-3 days a week, but then eat pasta for dinner every night, or wake up and make
waffles for breakfast, then you’re basically throwing away every hard workout
session you’ve done. If you find yourself making up excuses like “I’m too
tired” or “my leg hurts” as reasons you can’t work out, you don’t want it bad
The next time you find
yourself making up excuses, do a quick Google search of Bethany Hamilton and Jason
Lester. These 2 athletes certainly didn’t use excuses and let having a hurt leg
or injury get in the way of them reaching their dreams and goals. So honestly,
what’s your excuse?
#3 You want instant
results. No matter how badly
you want to see instant results, you need to accept the harsh reality that it
just isn’t going to happen. No matter how many times those infomercials make
you a believer, and you continue to order whatever product, pill, or wrap they are
selling, you will not see results, at least not the real results you want.
Working out and losing
weight takes time, dedication, effort and motivation. You have to want it bad
enough, but the good news is that you can do it, once you accept the fact that
it takes time. So instead of falling for products making false promises, start
by making small goals that are within your reach, and you will slowly but
surely start to actually see the results you have been dreaming about.
#4 You might have a
thyroid problem. One
reason you might not be losing weight is because you might have thyroid
problems and not even know it. Women are 10 times more likely to have a thyroid
problem than men. Let me also mention that having a thyroid problem is by no
means something you should blame yourself for.
In fact, at least 30
million Americans have a thyroid disorder and half—15 million—are silent
sufferers who are undiagnosed, according to the American Association of
Clinical Endocrinologists. There are signs and symptoms you can be aware of to
know if you should consult your doctor.
If you find yourself
feeling anxious often, your appetite has changed, your brain feels foggy, your
sex drive is down, your skin is dry and your bowel movements are all over the
place, a thyroid problem might be to blame. In addition to this, you may also
notice that your menstrual cycle has changed, you have high blood
pressure, you feel cold all the time, your sleep is irregular, you’ve gained
weight or you start to notice your hair is thinning or falling out, you should
definitely get your thyroid tested.
Having a thyroid issue
is not the end of the world, and it is something that can be fixed, but again,
probably not overnight. Testing and treating thyroid disorders take time, but
are worth it for your health and happiness. And, if you do have a thyroid
disorder, then it will be nice to know why you haven’t been seeing the weight
loss results you’ve been working so hard to achieve!
#5 You do the same
thing over and over again. If you are doing the same workout routine over and over again,
and not seeing results, the answer should be pretty obvious. It’s because
you’re not progressing to the next level! Just like your skin can get used to a
certain cream that no longer works on your face, your body can get used to the
same workout and it no may no longer work.
The best way to lose
weight is to change it up: run one day, do interval training the next, or take
a workout class 2 days out of the week, instead of doing your everyday routine
of walking and weightlifting.
You can even change it
up simply by running on the treadmill a few days a week, and on other days,
running outside around your neighborhood. Whatever you do, just make sure that
you make this change to give your workout some variety. You’ll start seeing the
results you’ve wanted to see for a while!
#6 You’ve fallen
victim of relationship weight. When you first started dating your boyfriend or girlfriend, you
were probably very active about working out, and you wanted to, because you
wanted your partner to see the sexiest you possible—and they did! But now that
you’ve been dating for a while, you find yourself cuddling on the couch and
being much lazier when it comes to working out than you used to. It
doesn’t help if your partner isn’t motivated either, never wanting to do active
things with you.
So, if you can relate
to being a victim of relationship weight, it’s time you stop being this victim.
Stop being lazy! Start working out, and start taking care of yourself. You
don’t want to look back a year from now and wonder what the heck happened.
You’ll have no one to blame but yourself. Stop with your lazy ways right now,
and start getting back to the most amazing version of yourself.
I have a funny feeling
that once your lover starts seeing you getting in shape and living a healthy
lifestyle, they’ll want to start coming with you on your gym dates.
#7 Can’t give up
alcohol. If you are one of
those people who always has to have a glass of wine after work, or loves going
to happy hour and letting go of all the stress from your workday, that’s all
good and everything. But it’s not good when you do these things all the time.
Having a glass of wine
after work is relaxing, and it’s okay to go to happy hour from time to time.
But you shouldn’t be doing these things every single day of your life,
especially if you’re trying to lose weight. I know there are studies out there
that show wine is good for you, but there are also studies out there that says
having one glass of wine is equivalent to having a piece of cake.
The next time you want
that glass of wine, ask yourself if you want wine or if you would rather have
cake. Then, ask yourself if you would rather have cake, or if you would rather
lose weight. I’m sure your answer will be the one about losing weight. And
hopefully this will motivate you to get your butt in the gym!
#8 You obsess too
much. It is very possible to
get in the way of yourself, especially when it comes to weight loss. There is a
reason that counting calories or obsessing over the number on the scale
actually backfires on you when trying to lose weight. When you start becoming
obsessed with every number and calorie, you mess yourself up from achieving
The saying “everything
in moderation” is so very true, especially when it comes to losing weight, and it’s
so important to remember this. A great way to keep track of your progress is to
keep a journal. Write down your workouts, what food you eat, and whatever else
you want to keep track of. Once you’ve logged your information for the day, let
it go. Don’t sit there and obsess over the numbers and calories you burned or
consumed. Remember, losing weight is a marathon, not a sprint.
It takes a lot of hard
work and determination to lose weight. If you are trying to lose weight, about
to start, or have been for a while, it’s exciting to know what the future will
bring, and you should be excited! You are about to become the very best version
of you possible.
It’s also important to
be aware of these 8 reasons that seriously can keep you from achieving your
goals. Remember that losing weight takes a lot of hard work. It wouldn’t be
called a workout if it didn’t.
Remember above all
else, you can do this! You are fully capable of achieving your weight loss
goals. It starts from within. You have to want it for yourself, and be okay
with doing it all by yourself.
Love is beautiful and the best gift anyone can give and receive. When two people decide they are compatible enough to spend the rest of their lives together, they commit as husband and wife. They make wonderful future plans and begin their journey right after the wedding.
What to Expect:
In this journey, there are things to love and hate about each other, rules to be agreed upon, which will govern the new relationship. Although the good times will always outdo the grays, there will be moments of insecurity. Whereas most people might think infidelity is the only giant to be overcome, there are more frequent hurdles to overcome.
Committing to a marriage is more than just fidelity. It involves standing together through thick and thin. Accepting each other’s weaknesses that were not noticeable before exchanging the vows, laughing and sometimes crying together.
Reality in Marriage:
Things really change after the honeymoon. In the awakening into reality, many give up thinking there’s someone better out there for them. The fact is, nothing in life grows overnight. Marriage isn’t an exception here. Every good thing under the sky takes time to build.
There will be days your husband/wife will want to be alone. That doesn’t mean she/he has stopped loving you. Everyone needs some alone time to quiet their mind. It is healthy and necessary for a happy relationship. The best you can do is allow them the space.
Simple decisions will become almost difficult. In marriage, they say two become one. Well, this is easier said than done. It is not easy to blend two completely different personalities – not with each partner expecting the other to become more of what they fantasized.
You don’t get to choose your living room color by yourself. If you had a certain pattern on your spending habits, you cannot continue the same. Everything must meet right in the middle of both your choices. You basically do away with the freedom to make major decisions.
This is where balance is very important because if one feels over-powered, they are more than likely to seek other options. You’ve heard people having a big wedding only to divorce a few months or years later. That happens because of unrealistic expectations which couples have when they exchange their vows.
No matter how compatible you are with each other, there will definitely be days when you will experience conflicts. In such situations, you must learn how to maturely deal with disagreements before they get out of hand.
It is unrealistic to expect things to always flow smoothly. You will experience small and, sometimes, huge cracks along the pavement. If you are committed to making your marriage work, forgiveness, patience and apologies are very important.
Avoid Breaking Up:
I believe most divorces are due to arrogance of one or both partners. When nobody is willing to take responsibility for their mistake and work toward being a better person, a marriage union turns into a roller coaster of unsolved issues, leaving both partners wanting out.
To keep and grow a healthy relationship, discuss issues with your partner as they arise and watch very carefully the words coming out of your mouth. Careless use of words can break a relationship to a point of no repair. If you listen more and speak less everything will work out very well because it gives you time to think and choose what to say.
Things can get a little bit rocky during the first years of marriage. Learning to adjust into the commitment and giving away most of the freedom is the biggest culprit. With patience, however, everything starts settling down.
REACHING A COMPROMISE: PART TWO OF THE STATE OF THE UNION MEETING
Only after you and your partner both feel understood during your weekly State of the Union Meeting can you begin to problem solve in order to reach a compromise. Not before.
The first step in problem-solving is to identify your core needs. Problem-solving fails when partners are not open to being influenced or when one partner gives up too much.
Dr. Gottman recommends drawing two ovals on a piece of paper, a small one and a big one around the smaller one. He calls this a compromise bagel.
Fill in the smaller oval with the needs you cannot live without. These are your inflexible areas. Try to keep this short by including only the needs that are essential to your happiness and, thus, your relationship’s success.
Next, in the bigger oval, list aspects of your position that are negotiable. These are your flexible areas. This doesn’t mean compromising on the need itself. It means being open to shifting some of the specifics about the need, such as timing, location, or methods to achieve your goal.
“I can live with only going out with my friends every other weekend.”
“I’ll switch to a closer yoga studio so I can be home earlier to help out with the kids.”
Your solutions probably won’t be as simple as this. In fact, you can expect a great deal of back-and-forth as you search for ways to weave each other’s needs into something both of you can accept.
Be open to each other’s creative suggestions. Finding a solution may not happen in one meeting. It may take a few meetings and that’s okay and totally normal. I’ve witnessed couples find a win-win even when they appear to be in opposition. For example, Kris and Kurt found a solution that allowed both of their dreams—owning a place in Hawaii while remaining financially secure—to become a reality.
It’s worth mentioning that sometimes compromise isn’t possible in a relationship. This happens when one partner’s dream is the other’s nightmare. For example, if one person’s inflexible need is to have children and their partner is inflexible about not having children, the couple is unlikely to reach a solution. In these cases, couples may need to end their relationship with a clear understanding of their differing values and why they need to move on.
In the majority of relationships, Dr. Gottman’s blueprint does lead to a compromise that works for both partners. After studying thousands of couples, Dr. Gottman discovered that nearly 2/3 of relationship conflict is about perpetual, unsolvable problems. This doesn’t prevent happy relationships—it’s how couples manage perpetual problems that makes the difference.
When dealing with an unsolvable problem in your State of the Union Meeting, it’s important to create a temporary compromise and then revisit it later to see how it is working. This willingness to play with ways of being with each other makes it easy to compromise and truly discover what works and what doesn’t for both partners.
Kris: Let’s move on to the finding a solution part. I have my two circles. I’m inflexible about having time together as a couple and as a family. I need at least a few hours once a week where it’s just you and me, and I need you to spend at least one evening at home during the week so we can have family time. I feel Jacob needs and wants to see more of you.
Emily: Okay, and what are you flexible about?
Kris: I am flexible about the days of the week this happens.
Emily: That makes sense. I am inflexible about going to yoga at least three times a week and attending my weekly women’s support group at the church. I really value being there for those women.
Kris: I know how much you enjoy those women and yoga. I get that. What are you flexible about?
Emily: I’m flexible about taking some of the other responsibilities off my plate such as being the PTO president for Jacob’s school and attending the weekly book club.
Kris: It sounds like we are in agreement about you doing less and spending more time with me and Jacob. Am I hearing that correctly?
Emily: Yes, you are.
Kris: That’s wonderful. I’d like to take you out on a date this week to celebrate breaking through this gridlocked conflict that has been pushing us apart.
Emily: We haven’t gone on a date in a while. That sounds nice. I’ll tell the book club I won’t be attending anymore which will free up my Thursday night and I’ll skip Yoga on Tuesday so I can spend time with you and Jacob. How does that sound?
Emily and Kris were able to reach a compromise fairly easily after they understood each other. Although they worked through a lot of hurt feelings in part one, they were able to hear each other’s core needs and agree to meet them.
You can expect to fall back into a nasty argument on occasion, especially during stressful times. But once you’ve mastered the vital attunement skills, you’ll be able to climb out of the hole before lasting damage is done to your relationship.
As with any new skill, improving attunement and working through conflict in a constructive way will feel uncomfortable and awkward at first. But just like learning to drive, meeting once a week for an hour will eventually cultivate the ability to be able to use your powerful attunement skills the moment there is a misunderstanding.
Dear daughter, now that you’ve come into the world, beautiful and delicate, I must protect you and teach you the hash truth concerning the things which await you. You must keep your head up and put on your armour. You must stand and fight, little angel.
Women have fought for equal rights for generations. The battles have been hard-fought, but we still have a long way to go. Our victories are surrounded by uncertainty. Women from different calibers can tell of their challenges because it’s still just a dream. A dream which perhaps your generation will make real.
Because you are a girl and one day will become a woman, you have forces to fight. Pressure to overcome. Inequalities to push through. Stigma and abuse to endure throughout your life. You must gear up with confidence and strength and stay vigilant. Above all, focus on yourself first and seek guidance from Almighty God.
They have it all wrong:
Women are thought to be very strong but they are more fragile than a bird’s egg. They smile and hide their sorrows from their children and the world. They give hugs even with a hundred knives sticking from their back. They drown silently in their own tears. Only a woman can look at her child from her dying bed, wipe away the tears on the child’s face and tell them she’s okay.
Because they are the backbone holding a family together, they sacrifice everything to see others happy. Although their efforts often go unnoticed, they are like a nonstop clock, only better because they never run out of energy. “When the time comes, don’t forget to take care of yourself too, my little angel.”
Invest in Yourself First:
A trusting woman can spend the last penny from her retirement benefit to build the man in her life only to watch him walk out on her and the children in search of the woman of his dream. Left with little hope and strength, she looks at her children, smiles and assures them that it’s going to be alright.
She gathers herself together, gets down on her knees and talks to God. At dawn she rolls her sleeves up and starts all over – because she has the strength of a woman. “Never get into this trap my little angel; build yourself, you will never get disappointed. An independent woman is a powerful soul.”
Too Many Hats will Ruin your Hairstyle:
A woman wears many hats – a wife, a mother, a cook, a cleaner, a nurse, an organizer, a prayer worrior, a provider, among others. Some call her superwoman, others focus on what was left undone. She does all the feminized work done more often by women than by men.
She thinks, worries, pays attention and delegates but her efforts are largely invisible. She gets almost no recognition or pay. Everything overwhelms her, but she only cries when nobody is watching. She understands she’s the backbone holding her family together. “You cannot do it all, my little angel. Do what you can and never be afraid to ask for help.”
Believe in Yourself:
A woman supports and validates a man’s dreams but she has to fight for her own. Do not give away your power to someone else. You can do anything if you lead. You do not have to follow lest you end up falling off the cliff.
A woman loves without ceasing because she’s made of pure love. The heart has misled many; sadly some are not here to tell their story. Don’t close your eyes when you kiss a man. They shut your mind down if you do. Open them wide and see beyond the kiss. “If you ever fall in love, use your brain to love and not your heart, my little angel.”
Don’t Get Stuck in a Rut:
A woman is often mistreated, abused and stepped on. Sadly she forgives and hopes for a brighter day – because she understands that she’s the torch-bearer of peace and she cannot afford to drop it down lest it burns out. Never misuse your strength, my little angle. It is OK to walk out and close the door behind you. “I understand it might be scary but, remember, you are stronger than you think.”
Women are beautifully and wonderfully made. They are a masterpiece and not an object. You do not have to buy somebody’s love by offering your body. Once you give in, the desire goes with their promises. If anyone is worthy, they will wait and love you until you’re ready and of sound mind to know exactly what you want.
Take baby steps with life, little angel. Do not rush through. Don’t exhaust yourself. Live for the moment, put God first, do the things that make you happy and do not expect from anyone but your Creator. Climb to the top of the mountain first, then drop a rope to help others get there. It is not selfish, it is the way of life.
“A woman’s heart should be so hidden in God that a man has to seek Him just to find her.” Maya Angelou. Remain under His wings, my little angel. You will be safe there now and after this life. I will not always be here with you; one day the winds will carry me into the unknown. However, God will forever hold you in His arms. He is the one true God who is the beginning and the end. He is our Heavenly Father who controls the unseen winds. In Him we are safe in this walk of life and the unknown.
Keep this letter close to your heart and remember to share your wisdom with your friends. Tell them it is a letter from mothers to their daughters.
DATE LIKE YOU DID IN THE BEGINNING AND THE PASSION WON’T END
We are supposed to find love by dating around. All across the globe, different pairs of strangers meet every night at restaurants hoping that the person sitting across from them is “The One.”
Many dates will be awkward enough to signal the server over immediately for the check. Other dates will last for hours. Some couples get lost in the world of sharing their hearts, and when they go on a second and a third date, they put on their best behavior
The new love birds shop for attractive clothes, exercise more, eat well, and groom themselves. One of them will plan the date by picking the restaurant, the dance class, or making a reservation at a hip speakeasy neither has been to. A lot of work goes into seeing each other again.
And this is something we often forget. Dating iswork. It takes an intentional effort. And this effort is created by the desire to impress and please your mate. It is the essence of romance. It is our gestures; the care we put into the way we dress, the places we take our lover, and even the surprises that produce excitement, novelty, and emotional connection.
Date nights are like gasoline to the flames of romance. Yet, 44% of long-lasting couples in America go on one date a year. 1 These couples forget to add wood to the fire to keep the heat burning. And as their relationship goes through time, the fiery passion turns into lonely embers in the night.
“Couples who stop spending romantic time together lose sexual interest in each other.” – The Normal Bar
The authors of The Normal Bar surveyed 70,0000+ individuals and found that more than 60% of men and women in the United States desire more romance.
Globally speaking, women generally wanted to enhance the romance more often than men. But more than one-third of the men said it bothered them a lot that their lover wasn’t more romantic.
When you’re done falling in love, you must learn to stand in love. To wilfully create it. The authors of the Normal Bar propose that Romance is a simple loop that reminds us of this.
And romance is created by the desire to be loved by your partner, to impress them and your desire to love and want them more. This happens in small ways, such as showing admiration for each other, and making each other a priority by continuing to court each other.
The vast majority of the Normal Bar couples who are extremely happy intentionally spend alone time together. No kids. No work. Even after partners share a mailbox together, they still “date.”
The research is in: Date night boosts happiness, emotional connection, and intimacy.
Fortunately for you and me, men and women have similar expectations when it comes to the ideal romantic date.
Women want to feel sexy, have a delicious meal at a nice restaurant, drink some wine, and end the evening with some quality love-making at home (or a high-end hotel if there are kids at home). 2
Men enjoy pleasing their partners by taking them out to dinner at a favorite spot, followed by going somewhere private where they can give and receive full-body sensual massages. Or maybe take a bath that finishes with having sex… “all night long.”
Throw in some heartfelt surprises such as a love note, more affection, and a serious makeout session, and you have yourself the international recipe for an ideal romantic date.
The 3 Excuses for Why You’re Not Dating Your Spouse
Couples who don’t do date night don’t prioritize their time together. The kids, work, and everything else take precedence, and their relationship slowly erodes.
If you do nothing to improve your relationship your relationship will get worse over time.
When asked why they’re not dating, couples come up with three excuses:
We don’t have enough time!
No, you just value spending your time on other things than the passion of your relationship. All of us have to make sacrifices by choosing one thing over another.
A 75-year study on what makes a good life proves that the way to live a meaningful life is not fame or wealth, but by having meaningful relationships. And meaningful long-lasting relationships are cultivated by two people committing to each other.
Commitment to your partner enables you more freedom because you’re not distracted by looking where the grass is greener. Instead, you are focused on making your current lawn lusciously green. It is this investment in your relationship that allows you to go to the depth that the gold of love is discovered.
We don’t have the money for a fancy restaurant or a sitter.
One of my favorite date nights with my partner is getting froyo. It doesn’t have to be elaborate or expensive. It only has to be with your partner.
If you’re struggling with having the money for a babysitter, get creative! In The Normal Bar, the authors suggest doing “Block Dating,” which means connecting with other families in your neighborhood and rotating who takes care of the little ones. Every other week, you’ll watch their kids so they can spend the evening on a date. It’s a win-win for the whole block because you get your turn too!
We want to do different things.
Of course you do. You’re different people. Take this opportunity to push each other to do things you normally wouldn’t do. This may require some negotiating.
In Stan Tatkin’s book Wired for Dating, he talks about how his wife Tracey wanted to go to her favorite spot for a drink, while Stan wanted to see a new movie. While Stan is not a fan of just going out for drinks, Tracey prefers to emotionally connect and feels that having a drink together is a perfect way to do that.
So they went to the movie and then talked about it over drinks. While this is a simple example, it shows that your partner’s desire can be an opportunity to learn something new about both of you. It’s your responsibility to find something interesting in the thing you are doing with them, not theirs. Ask questions, explore why they enjoy it, and find delight in their joy.
The Skills of Great Dating
Try something new + learn something new about your partner + intentional together time = Great date
Couples often settle into the relationship and take each other for granted. When fun and novelty fall to the waste side, it can be toxic to a bond. By discovering fun activities that are interesting to both partners, you bring in new and different experiences that spark new levels of intimacy.
Additionally, a great date is built on expressing a real curiosity about your partner’s life. Here’s how to do it:
“Be Interested, not interesting:” 3 Everyone wants to feel valued and admired. Your ability to pay attention to the details of your partner’s life does this.
Ask questions: Remember when you could talk for hours and never got tired of learning new things about each other? This doesn’t have to end. There are always new things to learn. Your partner’s inner world is always changing. You can do this by asking open-ended questions that lead to the heart, such as:
What is a secret dream of yours?
What and who are the most important things in your life right now?
What is your biggest struggle?
If you want more ideas, I highly recommend picking up Dr. Gottman’s card deck: Open-Ended Questions. (Hint: you can even bring them on a date! I do.)
Focus with all your attention: Once your partner is talking, truly listen. That means no cell phones or other distractions. Don’t plan on the next thing you’re going to say. I like to imagine a conversation with my partner as getting a tour of her heart. I’m not sure where it’s going to go, and if I see something I’m curious about, I stop and ask my partner about it.
Show responsiveness: It’s helpful to nod or mm-hmm to indicate to your partner that you’re truly listening.
Date Night Ideas
Struggling to come up with date ideas? Here’s a few ways to brainstorm:
Date Night in a Jar: Pull up Yelp and Google and search for date ideas in your town. Select ten, write them on a piece of paper and put them in a jar. Have your partner pull out one – there’s your date!
Create a bucket list. My partner and I did this recently, and every weekend of our summer is packed with dates and fun things with friends.
Harriet Lerner, Ph.D. proposes a very simple approach to rekindling the flames of dating. If your partner feels emotionally unavailable, you may have a habit of diagnosing your partner and the relationship.
You might accuse your partner of having intimacy issues and blame them of being afraid of getting close to you.
This makes things worse.
Instead of complaining about how you don’t date – plan a date.
Such as, “there’s a new steakhouse in town, want to check it out on Friday?”
Before diagnosing your partner’s intimacy issues, try taking steps to create closeness with them to see how they respond.
The frequency of dates in a relationship is also important. If you only go out a few times a year, The Normal Bar shows that it’s simply not enough for long-lasting relationships. Dating has to happen often enough to become the norm of the relationship. Once a week, or even twice a month will do wonders, not only for the emotional connection but for the sexual connection as well.
Just because you sleep in the same bed every night doesn’t mean dating should end. Make dating a priority. Plan it. Prepare for it. Get excited about it. Think of new places to go, new things to experience, and make romancing your partner a new normal in your relationship. Court and seduce your lover with the same energy you had at the beginning of the relationship, and the fire of passion will continue to burn.
According to the Normal Bar Study based on surveying 70,0000+ individuals across the globe ↩
Over the past decade, there’s a way of being I’ve gradually been cultivating in myself—I’ve been taming my tendency to get angry and argue with people when their behavior doesn’t match my expectations.
As human beings, we all have an idea in our heads about how things are supposed to be, and sadly this is what often messes our relationships up the most. We all get frustrated when things don’t play out the way we expect them to, and people don’t behave like they’re “supposed” to. We expect our spouses and children to act a certain way, our friends to be kind and agreeable, strangers to be less difficult, and so on and so forth.
And when reality hits us, and everyone seems to be doing the opposite of what we want them to do, we overreact—anger, frustration, stress, arguments, tears, etc.
So what can we do about this?
Breathe… think better… find your inner calm.
You can’t control how other people behave. You can’t control everything that happens to you. What you can control is how you respond to it all. In your response is your power.
When you feel like your lid is about to blow, take a long deep breath. Deep breathing releases tension, calms down our fight or flight reactions, and allows us to quiet our anxious nerves so we choose more considerate and constructive responses, no matter the situation.
So, for example, do your best to inhale and exhale next time another driver cuts you off in traffic. In a poll we conducted with our most recent “Think Better, Live Bette 2019” event attendees, overreacting while fighting traffic was the most commonly cited reason for overreacting on a daily basis. Just imagine if all the drivers on the road took deep breaths before making nasty hand gestures, or screaming obscenities at others.
There’s no doubt that it can drive us crazy when we don’t get what we expect from people, especially when they are being rude and difficult. But trying to change the unchangeable, wanting others to be exactly the way we want them to be, just doesn’t work. The alternative, though, is unthinkable to most of us…
Here’s the way of being that I’ve been cultivating and advocating:
To breathe deeply, and often.
To remind myself that I can’t control other people.
To remind myself that other people can handle their lives however they choose.
To not take their behavior personally.
To see the good in them.
To let go of the ideals and expectations I have about others that causes unnecessary frustration, arguments, and bouts of anger.
To remember that when others are being difficult, they are often going through a difficult time I know nothing about. And to give them empathy, love, and space.
“Being” this way—THINKING BETTER—takes practice, but it’s worth it. It makes me less frustrated, it helps me to be more mindful, it improves my relationships, it lowers my stress, and it allows me to make the world a slightly more peaceful place to be.
THE HONEST PATH TO FINDING A LIFELONG PARTNER WITH RACHEL RUSSO
I’ll be honest, dating can be difficult. It’s not uncommon to feel overwhelmed with the number of possible ways to find a life partner, with deciding whether to go on a second date or cancel and eat Ben and Jerry’s Chocolate Therapy, or with knowing when to commit to someone. It can feel like a game you just don’t want to play.
That’s why I sat down with Rachel Russo, New York City matchmaker and dating coach, to discuss how you can find someone to create a lifelong partnership with.
In our interview, Rachel and I tackled:
The most common troubles people have when dating and how to solve them
Handling rejection and how to honestly reject others in a mature way
How to take advantage of current dating spaces, both real-world and online
Common Dating Troubles
Years ago I wrote about my frustrations with being a first dateprenuer. I felt lost in a maze called dating, only to find myself running into dead-ends because my dates weren’t “perfectly compatible.”
And that’s a problem.
As soon as I would finish a first date, even on my way back to my car I’d already be back to swiping on dating apps and seeing who else was out there. With the appearance that everyone and their grandmother were available, I believed I had millions of choices.
The problem is that this way of dating plays right into what is called the Paradox of Choice. It’s when you have so many options, you actually choose NOT to choose.
This is a perfect example of one of the struggles with dating. You go on a date, you connect with someone, but then you’re worried about missing out on someone even better. Even if the person you’re on a date with is amazing, you’re worried about not connecting with Janice or Jacob who might be, in your mind, a potentially better fit.
“[W]hen choosing a long-term partner.. [you are also choosing] a particular set of irresolvable problems that you’ll be grappling with for the next ten, twenty, or even fifty years.” – Daniel Wile, After The Honeymoon
To learn more about the more common troubles of dating, watch the interview here.
The Upside of Healthy Rejection
Have you ever thought about the language of rejection in romantic relationships?
“She broke my heart” or “He hurt my feelings” or “Her cheating was like a stab in the back.”
Our attachment system, a primal survival system, is designed to keep you close to others for your safety. After all, your ancestors who stayed closer to the tribe tended to survive long so they could procreate. Essentially, we are hardwired for connection.
This is why rejection is so painful.
But that doesn’t mean it’s wrong or unhealthy. Just because something doesn’t feel good doesn’t mean it’s not good for you.
People who build muscle in a gym tend to undergo difficult workouts and associate a positive meaning to the unpleasant sensations involved, which makes it easier to tolerate.
“This is the skill that’s perilously missing today: the ability to de-couple meaning from feeling, to decide that just because you feel something, it doesn’t mean life is that something.” – Mark Manson, F*ck Your Feelings
You cannot change how icky rejection feels if you do it to someone else or how hurt you might feel if you get rejected by someone you like. What you can change is the meaning. Which paradoxically makes your feelings easier to tolerate. This is classic Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).
Let’s look at this as an example:
Let’s say that Alex is interested in taking Lucy on a date. Alex saw her in a coffee shop, and he thought she was beautiful. He walks up to her and says, “Hey there… [slightly awkward small talk]… I was wondering if I could take you out on a date?”
Lucy is not interested in dating someone since she just got out of a 3-year relationship and wants time to focus on herself and her career.
Would it be better for Lucy to agree to go to on the date, even though she is not interested, or would it be better for Lucy to be honest with Alex and tell him that she’s flattered, but isn’t in a space to date at this point in time?
If you think the latter is better, Rachel and I would agree.
Agreeing to go on a date in order to not hurt someone’s feelings will, in the end, hurt their feelings more than it would have if you had been honest and kind and tactfully rejected them in the first place.
As Rachel says, it is far worse to string someone along and waste their time than it is to just be honest about what you may or may not be looking for. This also means NO GHOSTING or benching.
Being rejected shows you who is and isn’t for you. Rejection can enable you to find someone who will meet your needs and someone whose needs will be met by you.
With the plethora of online dating options, you may choose one of the more prevalent apps such as Hinge, Bumble, Tinder, or Match.
While these apps are great, they also put you in a large dating pool with people who have a wide range of interests, which makes it harder to sort through who will be a good fit for you. This means more effort on your end.
Luckily, there are websites that help filter for certain values such as fitness and physical health, mindfulness, and more.
“If you are like most [people], the most important decisions you make about [dating] won’t feel like [a dating] decision at all. Where you decide to live, study, work and hang out are not just random, superficial lifestyle choices…The fact is, you can’t meet the right [partner] if you’re in the wrong place. This means that your city, your college campus, your workplace, your gym, and your favorite coffee shop are not just physical locations. They’re what scientist call ‘mating markets.’” – Tucker Max and Dr. Geoffrey Miller – Mate: Become the Man Women Want
Essentially, the best dating advice is to make dating an extension of your personal life because your local dating zone comprises all of the potential partners whose dating zones overlap with yours. 1
And when you’re having fun doing things you love, you’re probably way more attractive than if you are doing things you don’t enjoy.
In summary, the best strategy to authentically finding a life partner is to understand yourself and use that information to do social activities that lead to connections with other people who have similar values as you do.